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Agreement on Greenlands Commercial Salmon Fishery Good News for NA

US - The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) welcomed the decision of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) at last weeks meeting in Edinburgh to continue a moratorium on commercial salmon fishing at Greenland, where salmon from North Americas east coast rivers migrate to over-winter and feed.

In 2012, the catch at West Greenland will be restricted to internal use, estimated at 20 tons annually. There will be no commercial export of salmon. This regulatory measure will also apply to 2013 and 2014, unless there is significant improvement in salmon numbers, which will warrant a scientific reassessment. Scientists have indicated that they do not expect significant increases in abundance of North Americas salmon in the next three years.

Sue Scott, ASFs Vice President of Communications, who attended the meeting as a non-government representative said, This continues a suspension that has been in effect since 2002, and during that time we have seen a moderate increase in large salmon that migrate to Greenland. The extended time will allow significant conservation programs to take hold and further restoration of our salmon to evolve.

For example on West River Sheet Harbour in the southern uplands region of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Salmon Association is neutralizing the acidity of the river so that wild salmon can live there again, said Ms Scott. She continued, ASF has in its network 125 organisations who are working on restoration projects throughout eastern Canada and the United States. On the St. John River in N.B., investment in fish passage, both upstream and down, has the potential to greatly expand the salmon run. In Labrador, a community effort is under way to establish a provincial water park on the Eagle River to protect the entire watershed. An extended moratorium on the Greenland commercial fishery is good news for the outcomes of all these projects.

Yesterday, salmon conservation made history in the removal of the Great Works Dam on the Penobscot River in Maine, an outcome that has been 13 years in the making, said Ms Scott.

The decommissioning and removal of Great Works Dam is part of a broad collaborative effort that will include removal of another dam and the creation of new, upstream fish passage at two other dams within the next two years. Salmon from the Penobscot migrate to Greenland, where they are among the mix of salmon that fishermen catch. Any significant fishery at Greenland would very much threaten the Penobscot River restoration that, when completed, will vastly improve access to nearly 1,000 miles of historic fish habitat, benefitting 11 species of native sea-run fish including endangered Atlantic salmon.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation and our partners can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for the short-term, that the fruits of their labour will not be victims of a distant water fishery, concluded Ms Scott.

Lucy Towers

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